The Masonry of Erlangen

Part Two of our trip to Germany entailed a visit with friends in Erlangen.  A beautiful city in northern Bavaria, Erlangen is home to the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), a large university with about 20,000 students.  The masonry of Erlangen is mainly stone, and much of the city’s architectural heritage was influenced by two important events: the arrival of French huguenot refugees in the late 1680s and a devastating fire in the old part of the city in 1706.  But there are also impressive nineteenth-century masonry structures throughout the city.

One of the most prominent buildings in town, the Erlangen palace (or Markgräfliches Schloss Erlangen), is owned by the university.  The palace was constructed between 1700 and 1704 and was used as a royal residence until 1814 when a fire gutted the building.  It was rebuilt by the university in the early 1820s.  The schloss faces the city’s market square and backs upon the schlossgarten, a public park.  Because Erlangen’s Christkindlmarkt was in the process of being erected, I wasn’t able to get a clear view of the front of the building, but its back is stately.


The building is made of a handsome pinkish-gray sandstone, which you can see in the photo below.


Another prominent building in Erlangen is the Hugenottenkirche, or the Huguenot Church.  It was built between 1686 and 1693 as a congregation for the huguenot settlers to Erlangen.  (The tower was added to the main church in the 1730s.)  The Huguenot Church was the centerpiece of the “new city” built by the huguenots to the south of the original city center.  The architect of the new city and the Huguenot Church was Johann Moritz Richter, the crown prince’s master planner and master builder.


Both the main part of the church and the tower were built using the same pinkish-gray sandstone that was used on the schloss.  This stone which must be native to the Erlangen area, as you see it on buildings all over town.  In addition, the tower has subtle baroque details, which is the predominant style of the new city’s architecture.


There are also a large number of late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings in Erlangen, including these two buildings facing each other on Nürnbergerstraße near Güterhallenstraße.


The brick and sandstone building above houses a hotel and brasserie, and has wonderful polychrome brick details.


It faces an older limestone building with a richly-ornamented gable, a tower with a turret, and beautifully carved stone quoins.


But there is one thing you might not be able to see through the trees.  A knight carved into a niche at the corner, complete with a stone shield and a bronze jousting pole.


I was really curious what this building could be used for.  Our friends informed us it’s just another fraternity associated with the university.  I have seen some beautiful fraternity houses on American college campuses (and some horrid ones), but never a building this impressive or in such good condition.

Because we are on the topic of fraternities, it seems only fitting to finish our brief tour of Erlangen with an historic brewery.


The Erich Bräu building was built in 1870 on the Aldstädter Kirchenplatz in the old city.  In the late nineteenth century, Erich Bräu was the largest exporter of beer in Erlangen.  The brewery itself dates to the early 1700s, but it was purchased by Franz Erich in the mid-nineteenth century.  During his tenure, Franz Erich modernized the brewery and erected several new buildings along Aldtstädter Kirchenplatz, including this one.  This website has a brief history of Erich Bräu, as well as several historic drawings and photos of the brewery in Erlangen.  (All websites cited here are in German, but can be translated using Google Translate.)

Next time you visit Germany, be sure to spend a day in the charming city of Erlangen.  There are plenty of beautiful historic buildings, an impressive botanical garden run by the university, and lots of delicious food and drink.  I also hear there is a great beer festival every spring that rivals the more famous Oktoberfest in Munich.

The Masonry of Munich

When a masonry blogger goes on vacation, she takes way too many photos of masonry during her travels.  Needless to say, when I recently visited Bavaria (with a day trip to Salzburg, Austria), I photographed a lot of masonry buildings.  To mix things up a bit here at the Masonry of Denver, I thought I’d share some of the more interesting masonry structures I saw on my travels.  First up: The Masonry of Munich.

The last time I visited Bavaria was in 1999.  At that time, I didn’t digest the fact that most masonry structures in southern Germany and northern Austria are clad with stucco.  Stucco is not my favorite building material, but the stucco on German and Austrian buildings is often textured with sand or pebbles, or the stucco is pigmented.  It’s more interesting than your average stucco, but it’s still stucco.  Fortunately for us, everything in Munich isn’t covered in stucco.  And better yet, several incredible buildings survived World War II.

Take this beautiful stone building, for example.  It is on Thierschstraße in the Altstadt-Lehel neighborhood of Munich.  According to a Google search, it was built in 1889 and was designed by architects Albin Lincke and Max Littmann.  My German is non-existent, but it seems that these two gentlemen designed several prominent buildings in Munich in the late nineteenth century.


The beige sandstone used to clad this building is lovely, but the carvings are just wonderful.  These strong men (and a cherub) frame the entrance and support the oriel window on the second floor.


The stone carving is even more intricate at the top of the building, where you can see an angel blowing into a metal trumpet, a cherub supporting a cartouche, ornate palm fronds and foliage, brackets with lions heads, and some of the most fanciful urns I’ve ever seen.



The Masonry of Veterans Day

Veterans Day has been celebrated in the United States since 1954, but it was known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day since Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th a Federal holiday in 1919.  On this Veterans Day 2014, the Masonry of Denver would like to celebrate the men and women who served the United States in times of war and peace.  I am especially grateful for the service of my grandfathers, uncles, and cousins; my father-in-law; and many friends.  Thank you all for your service.

So how does masonry play into the lives of American veterans?  A walk through any military cemetery will give you a hint.  Every man and woman who serves in the United States military is eligible to receive a free military grave marker from the Department of Veterans Affairs, regardless of where they are buried.  The VA issues both flat cemetery markers and upright head stones.  The flat markers, which are installed nearly flush to the ground, are available in marble, granite and bronze.  Upright headstones are available in marble and granite.

Marble is by far the most common military headstone marker, and the military only uses Danby marble quarried from Vermont.  It is an exceptionally pure, white stone, and is readily available due to a large vein of marble of varying quality that runs up the east side of the Hudson River from Manhattan to the Canadian border.  Vermont marble is typically a very high quality, white or whitish gray marble, while the marble historically quarried in upper Manhattan and southern Westchester County is a granular, lesser quality pinkish tan stone.  The quality of the stone improves the farther north one travels up the Hudson River.


VA-issued upright grave markers are 42 inches long, 13 inches wide and 4 inches deep, though the depth of their installation varies.  The veterans markers in the photo above appear to have been set several feet into the ground.  Inscriptions typically carved into headstones by the VA include the veteran’s name, rank, location of service, the war or wars in which he or she fought, the branch of the military in which he or she served, and the veteran’s birth and death dates.  Families may purchase additional inscriptions if there is room on the grave marker.  Finally, each veteran may have a symbol of their faith carved into the top portion of the grave stone.  Very few religious symbols were available, such as the Christian or Catholic crosses in the photo above, but over the years the VA has extended their recognized emblems to include 61 religious symbols.

Cemeteries all over Colorado have markers noting the grave of United States veterans.  I came upon three large areas for military memorials in Fairmount Cemetery in Denver several weeks ago when I visited.  The one closest to the cemetery entrance marks the graves of the Colorado Volunteers.  The monument itself is made of a gray granite with a bronze statue, but the grave markers arrayed in a circle around the monument are all white marble.  You will notice that their inscriptions are raised letters in a recessed shield.  This indicates the graves of veterans who served during the Civil War or the Spanish-American War, or during peace time before World War I.  Most of these grave markers represent veterans of the Spanish-American War.

CO Vols Memorial

A second military memorial, called the Garden of Honor, sits just northeast of the Colorado Volunteers memorial.  The Garden of Honor is simple and elegant, with upright marble headstones arranged in a circle around the United States flag.  All of the headstones face inward toward the flag, as opposed to the Colorado Volunteers memorial, whose headstones face outward.

Circle memorial

The third military memorial at Fairmount Cemetery commemorates Lieutenant Frances Brown Lowry, who served in World War I and died when his plane was shot down over France in 1918.  The Lowry memorial marks the graves of members who served in Lowry’s battalion, as well as other veterans of World War I.  The memorial, created in 1921, is made of a light granite with a bronze dough-boy statue.

Lowry Memorial

Once again, we would like to thank all of the men and women who have served the United States military.